Thursday, August 08, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Delaware Water Gap, PA To Greenwood Lake, NY

🐻 x 6
UPDATED 11-21-2020

I broke down this week.  A bunch of things came to a head all at once and I felt overwhelmed.  I had a mild anxiety attack.

I'm starting to wonder if my plan is too aggressive.  I hope I'm wrong.  I know of three people who have told me they are confident in finishing when they see me because they heard I had a plan.  If they are even with me or past me then they know they will get to Katahdin.  But … what happens when I begin to doubt my own plan.

A tranquil pond.  Do you see the Butterfly?
Day 122 - I left Delaware Water Gap, PA and, while crossing a bridge over the Delaware River, crossed into New Jersey.  The seventh state was behind me.  I'd not see or talked to Choo Choo after the first night in Delaware Water Gap.  I texted her telling her where I would be camping that night. 

The trail climbed back up the ridge.  There were rocks in New Jersey too but there was also dirt.  Logically I knew that the rocks would be just as bad as in Pennsylvania but it still felt less rocky.  I think it has to do with how the trails are maintained.

Somewhere I passed the one thousand three hundred mile marker but I didn't see it so no picture.

I ended the day at a campsite near Rattlesnake Spring.  This was my tenth tenting on the Appalachian Trail (AT).  Choo Choo never arrived and she didn't answer my text.  While I was setting up camp I wondered if I'd said or done something that had bothered her.  I'd heard many stories about women hikers on the AT being harassed and stalked. I sent one last text saying that if I'd said or done anything to offend her it was unintentional, I was sorry, and I wished her happy trails.  She didn't answer.  I was ghosted.  Alone again.

Another state behind me.
Day 123 - I woke up to a dry tent which made me happy.  I packed up and headed out.

My energy levels have been extremely low lately.  This day was no different.  I have been slowing down and taking more breaks during the day.  Even with the extra rest stops I'm often exhausted at the end of the day.  I think the AT is making me weary.

I came to a road crossing and realized there was a restaurant not far away.  I stopped at the Mountain House Tavern and Restaurant and relaxed in the air conditioned space, drank some lemonade, and ate my first good Mountain House meal.

In the first half of the AT I would have known about the restaurant because I would have studied the guide book.  Since Harper's Ferry I've been paying less and less attention to the guide book.  The results are I am surprised by restaurants and other points of interest along the trail.

I drug my way away from the cool air and finished the short climb to the Gren Anderson Shelter.

Day 124 - The surprise of the day was how close the trail went to
High Point Tower.
High Point State Park headquarters.  Turns out if you are a thru-hiker and sign their log book they give you a soda.  I ran into a few thru-hikers taking a break here including Salamander.  I also took a short nap before I moved on.

The trail passes a place where you can see the tower on the highest point in New Jersey.

I reached a road crossing that would take me to Unionville, NY.  I started to walk the three quarters of a mile to town when a car pulled up.  In the passenger seat was Salamander.  She had recognized me and asked the driver to pull over. I squeezed in between the two car seats and they took me to town.  Salamander said she was going to a drive in movie theater where the owners let you camp.  She asked if I wanted to go too.  I decided not to go.  I was concerned I would have difficulty getting out of the town and back on trail.  Looking back now, I should have gone with Salamander.  Most of my isolation along the trail was self-induced.

Unionville offered free camping in the town park.  I ate a good meal at an Italian restaurant and had a rather restless sleep.

Day 125 - I packed up and bought a breakfast sandwich at the general store before walking back to the trail and heading North.

The trail follows roads, skirting a nature preserve where I saw a flock of egrets, before heading back up the ridge.  Part way up the ridge you pass a vacant house where the guide suggests getting water from a spigot.

Farther ahead the trail was a boardwalk through a swampy area.  The boardwalk stretches nearly a mile and incorporates a suspension bridge over a creek.  The only bad thing about this is there was no shade on his part of the trail.  I did manage to find a rare bench in a spot of shade and took a short nap.  During this leg I'd played leap frog with a German girl named Wind and the two couples she was hiking with.  They passed me while I was napping on the bench.  They kept saying they were hiking faster than I was but, as I passed them farther ahead I pointed out that if I was so slow, why was I passing them now.  We all got a smile out of that.

The flattest part of the Appalachian Trail.
I found another surprise when I ran across Heaven Hill Farm.  I stopped here and bought ice cream and watermelon.  I talked with a local woman with her mother.  Her mother seemed to have Alzheimer's.  I patiently answered the same questions about the AT several times.  

I ended the day at the Wawayanda Shelter.  As I was arriving Wind passed me and asked me if I was going to the Drive In theater.  Once again I said no.  

I was alone at the shelter.  I looked at the guide book and realized the next resupply town didn't look very good.  I became frustrated.  The difficulty of the trail, the lack of substantial social interaction, and the difficulty of making my plan work all reached a peak.  I was still stewing about Choo Choo and the lack of an explanation.

On top of that a friend I'd met on the Camino who lived in New Jersey suggested meeting me.  I gave her my schedule and asked her to contact me when she returned from a trip to Peru she was taking so we could coordinate and meet up.  She said she would but … She never got back to me.  No explanations.  No I'm sorrys.

To add to it all, a few weeks back Curry had texted me and said she wanted to jump ahead and join me for the rest of the AT.  We'd agreed that her boyfriend would drop her at Delaware Water Gap.  This made me very happy and I was really looking forward to reuniting with one of my original trail family members.  About a week before I got to Delaware Water Gap she texted me that, after talking to her boyfriend, she'd decided she was going to quit.  That was a blow but at least she apologized and explained why she wasn't joining me.

All these things, along with my self-sabotaging, came to a head in the Wawayanda shelter.  I had a mini breakdown.  I called the Wife so she could talk me down.  The AT is not getting easier for me.  Thoughts of quitting began creeping into my thoughts.

Even another state behind me.
Days 126 & 127 - I hiked eight miles, across the boarder between New Jersey and New York, to a side trail that took me sharply down a ridge into the town of Greenwood Lake, NY.

The first hotel was full.  The second had a room.  The town has little resupply resources available but they have restaurants and there are some convenience stores and a drug store to scrape together supplies for the next few days on the trail.

I think I'm the only hiker in town.  It feels very lonely.  I looked at the next few days and I added stops to shorten some days.  I'm giving myself a sort of hiking vacation.  Today I will hike only five or six miles to the next shelter.  The changes I made will eliminate a few twenty mile days but add a few days to my AT hike.  Shortening the next few days will not help me feel less alone as the thru-hikers I know will very likely pass me up and once again I will be behind the bubble.  That is the hardest part of this endeavor.

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 1,371.7 Miles (2,207.5 km)
Section Distance: 79.8 Miles (128.4 km)
Section Elevation Up: 11,860 ft (3,615 m)
Section Elevation Down: 11,222 ft (3,421 m)


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